More than 480 kids participated in the Newton YMCA soccer league last year, and not a single one had to pay to join. The generous donation from the Monsignor McCann Community Fund is what made it possible for these children to play for free, and the group’s support continues to grow.
On April 22, the Monsignor McCann Community Fund awarded a $35,000 grant to the YMCA to not only provide a free football league for the third year in a row, but also to provide a free college sports program for 2023. Newton are “blessed,” says Newton YMCA CEO Lucas Hughes.
“The young people of Newton are blessed to have the Bishop McCann Community Fund in their community,” said Hughes. “And the YMCA is grateful.”
The YMCA has 60 teams — led by volunteer coaches — that participate in its soccer league. The grant will cover the costs of Spring 2023 soccer for all children in Jasper County. But now, Hughes said, the grant will also help the college’s athletic program.
The YMCA Middle School Sports Program runs year-round for fifth and sixth graders and includes four different sports: track and field, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. The previous donation from the Monsignor McCann Community Fund in 2022 allowed 130 players to participate in the program for free.
“(Monsignor McCann Community Fund) has seen the vision so far as to bridge that gap between fifth and sixth graders who are not able to afford that travel ball or travel sport and those who just want to continue to participate,” Hughes said, noting the community fund’s board was on board from the start.
Mark Thayer, president of the Monsignor McCann Community Fund, said the fund was created after McCann Village was sold in 2018. The volunteer-run nonprofit regularly distributes money to local organizations that perform charitable work or meeting the needs of poor and disadvantaged people. in Jasper County.
In addition to the $35,000 grant to the YMCA, the fund provided $1,800 to the Pregnancy Center of Central Iowa and $6,000 to DMACC Newton Campus to focus on student mental health. Typically, the group distributes $50,000 to $70,000 each year.
Thayer said some families face financial hurdles when enrolling their children in sports. Some parents simply cannot afford the fees. Since the introduction of free youth soccer, the YMCA has seen a huge increase in participation. In 2019, 181 children were registered; by 2021, 444 children have enrolled in the program.
“It’s been really great, for me, to see the growth of this program — nearly 500 kids this spring,” Thayer said. “I live in this neighborhood and it really warms me to see games going on until 3:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon. It’s nice to see the kids can do this at no cost to their parents.”
Hughes also noticed this growth. And he suggested it was spreading to other areas. For example, registrations for flag football – a sport that is not offered for free – have grown from about 53 children to 96 children in the space of a year, or about 81%.
“If you give them the opportunity to explore Y activities, they start participating in more than what’s free,” Hughes said. “…Bishop McCann has opened a doorway for people who may not have the funds now to see what the Y is capable of giving to the community.
From 2021 to 2023, the community fund has consecutively awarded grants to the YMCA for free youth soccer. Thayer said the fund recognizes the YMCA as “one of Newton’s greatest assets.” The fund’s board also knows that families face several economic factors, but they don’t want their children to be affected.
“I can’t think of a better organization in Newton that responds to these economic uncertainties and challenges for families than the YMCA,” Thayer said. “They are doing everything they can to try to accommodate as many people as possible. It is an organization that we feel good about supporting on an annual basis.
Hughes said the community fund showed it was all about youth and the development of promising students in the county.
“What that tells me is that Bishop McCann is looking after the development of the youth and just making sure they are sponsoring a healthy lifestyle in line with the mission of the Y,” Hughes said. “You have defenders on both sides who not only support the Y, but also the young people. »
For more information on the Bishop McCann Community Fund, visit www.mmcfund.org. In recent years, the fund has donated $20,000 for the Newton Wading Pool Project and $10,000 to the Salvation Army for its Red Kettle campaign.
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or [email protected]